The Abkhazi Gardens – Victoria, BC Canada

The Abkhazi Garden

Abkhazi Garden
When I moved to Victoria from the cold and colourless Yukon, I could hardly contain my excitement for the riot of blooms staring me in the face everywhere I looked. Only those who have shared my frozen northern exile can appreciate the deliriums of delight that 400,000 flowering bulbs can bring.

Zealous Victorians, down on their hands and knees every spring, gardening tools and seeds at the ready, in a fervor of planting, are eager to do justice to their city’s reputation as the city of gardens. I delighted in strolling along blossom-strewn streets that chronicle the first arrival of spring, then watching summer’s flowers take shape. It wasn’t long before I discovered Victoria’s public gardens, the envy of gardeners everywhere. It is these gardens – many maintained by volunteers – which are most accessible to travellers to the city.

Abkhazi Garden
On my list of ‘must visit’ was the newest garden to fire the imaginations of Victorians, the Abkhazi Garden, a visual interpretation of a love story that waited more than 20 years to blossom. The garden’s moods and character reflect those of Peggy and Nicholas Abkhazi whose love story began in Paris in 1920 when British expat Peggy (nee Pemberton-Carter) and Nicholas, an exiled Georgian Prince, met and fell in love. But life interfered. Torn apart by circumstance and war, Nicholas became a prisoner in a German POW camp, while the Japanese held Peggy. After the war Peggy searched for, found, and married her Prince.

They moved to Victoria in 1946, purchased a rocky outcrop of land and began to build their garden of love. On show since 1949, the garden fell into a period of decline after Nicholas died in 1988 and Peggy followed in 1994. The garden was under the threat of a developer’s bulldozer until Victorians rushed with gusto to the rescue, raising money to stay the hand of progress. Though still in the infancy of its restoration, the grounds are slowly being brought back to their former glory.

Abkhazi Garden
I enjoyed a leisurely stroll in this intimate garden, covering not much more than .40ha (one acre) of ground where narrow paths connect one view to another. A dirt path wanders through a small woodland garden planted with rhododendrons, then opens onto a sunny south lawn.

At the far end of the lawn, a cozy summerhouse beckons. Ponds, stone steps and rock gardens wind through the property. Among the garden’s features are native Garry oaks, ornamental evergreens, natural bulbs and Japanese maples. Perched on the highest point of the garden is the small cottage where the couple lived. I paused at the base of a nearby rock in the garden, where, their ashes spread, Peggy and Nicholas are once again reunited, completing the love story.

The Abkhazi Gardens are located at 1964 Fairfield Road, about 5 minutes from the downtown by car or bus. Open March 1 – Sept. 30, 11 – 5 pm DAILY. Admission by donation. Email: Website:


Abkhazi Garden

  • August 11
    Twilight Garden Party
    6-10pm at Abkhazi Garden.
    Jazz piano, Latin dance music, finger food, no-host bar, dancing, plant sales, raffle, silent acution. All proceeds to conservation of the garden.
    Tickets are $75, contact 479-8053 to purchase.


  • August 4
    Symphony Splash
    Victoria’s Inner Harbour
    Performance starts at 7:30pm. Be there early. This event attracts upwards of 40,000 people.
    Info: 385-9771


  • Through September 4
    Summer in the Square
    Centennial Square
    Free lunchtime entertainment every Monday through Friday at noon. Other highlights include Saturday community performances, and free dance instruction followed by Dancing under the Stars featuring some of the regions best swing, salsa and big bands.

    Dance Under the Stars
    Centennial Square (downtown) every Saturday and Sunday night in August from 8pm. At 10pm every Sunday night there is a B film festival.


  • August 17-18
    Dragon boat racing and festival events
    Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
    Info: 472-2628

    New Victoria Art Gallery Exhibition
    Above Ground: Mining Stories

    This new exhibition portrays the history and culture of mining communities from Glace Bay, Nova Scotia to Cumberland, BC. It runs until October 13, 2002.

    The effect of the booming mining industry of the late 1800s and early 1900s attracted artists like A.Y. Jackson and Yvonne McKague Housser to capture the landscape, while photographers like Hayashi Studios captured the social and cultural history. These artists portrayed frontier communities, ethnic diversity, and labour unrest existing alongside fishing trips, local dances and masquerade parties.

    Above Ground: Mining Stories uses paintings, drawings, historical photographs, maps, and books to explore the culture and history of nine regions across Canada. The exhibition was curated for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by Rosemary Donegan, a Toronto-based art historian and curator who is well known for her critically acclaimed work investigating the link between communities, industry, and art.

    The exhibition draws together works from art galleries and archives across the country including the National Gallery of Canada, the National Archives, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Glenbow Museum & Archives, the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design Archives, and the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec.

    Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
    1040 Moss Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 4P1
    Tel. 250 384-4101


  • August 16-18
    Rootsfest Music Festival
    At Sandown Park, Sidney
    Rootsfest is the largest world-beat music festival on Vancouver Island. 40 international and Canadian bands (about 150 performers) on 3 outdoor stages, vendors’ village, beer garden. This year’s lineup includes:

    • Grammy Award Winner Dave Alvin & The Guilty Men, Spirit of the West’s lead singer gone-solo John Mann, as well as Stephen Fearing, Mae Moore, Amy Sky, Todd Butler and one of Canada’s most distinctive minstrels, Valdy.


    • Celtic & British Folk including Archie Fisher from Scotland, Welsh troubadour Martyn Joseph, the political and poetic Andy White from Ireland, The Duhks (formerly Scruj McDuhk) from Winnipeg, Victoria’s own Jeremy Walsh, fiddle sensation Ivonne Hernandez and the guitar/fiddle duo of Tim Brown & Peter Gilmore.


    • Roots/Country & Bluegrass from Texas singer-songwriter legend Guy Clark, Edmonton’s Corb Lund Band, emerging star Allen Dobb, Canada’s 92 year-old cowboy and country music legend Alberta Slim, the all-female bluegrass band Billy Goats Gruff, and Carolyn Mark’s ‘Hootenanny’ – the best of the best of her musical friends including Dave Lang, and Clay George.


    • World Rhythms will be delivered by reggae superstars Third World, The Reggae Cowboys, Texas-based Mexican songbird Tish Hinojosa and the African-American vocal group Linda Tillery & the Cultural Heritage Choir.

    Contact: (250) 386-3655; Advance tickets are available now at McPherson Box Office, 386-6121 or call Toll-free 1-888-717-6121

    Medieval Delights
    Oldfield Orchard at 6286 Oldfield Rd.
    Presents a four course medieval feast and a medieval performance by a 27 member company. Every Friday night in August from 6pm-8:30pm. Hayrides, archery, costumed song and dance, chamber of horrors, and swordplay.
    Tickets are $45 for adults and $30 for children.
    Call 652-1579 (the Orchard) or 595-9907 (Candian College of Performing Arts), or 384-0332 (Spinnaker’s Pub).


  • August 2-10
    Latin Caribbean Music Festival
    Market Square, 560 Johnston St.
    Includes over 100 performers from Latin America, The Caribbean and North America
    Contact: (250) 361-9433 ext 212 or 215 for details


  • August 23-Sept. 2
    Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival
    Various Venues in downtown
    Contact: (250) 383-2663 or toll free 1-888-fringe2

    Abkhazi Garden
    Ghostly Walks
    Meet in front of Tourist Info Centre
    812 Wharf Street
    Ghostly Walks are held every night at 7:30pm.
    No reservations are needed.
    Tours last about two hours and there is a brief rest break at mid-point.
    Tickets Available at Tourism Victoria.
    Info 384-6698


  • Sundays through first week September
    Harbour Ferry Ballet
    On the Water in the Inner Harbour
    Watch the Harbour Ferries dance to the music of the Blue Danube. Performances at 9:45am.


  • Labour Day weekend
    Classic Boat Festival
    Inner Harbour
    100 classic sail and power boats from throughout the Pacific Coast and beyond arrive for the Classic Boat Festival.


  • Aug. 31-Sept. 2
    Vancouver Island Brewery Blues Bash
    Presents performances of regional and international bands, performing blues and R&B. Free performances will take place in the afternoons at Ships Point, in Victoria’s Inner Harbour, as well as paid admission performances in the evenings at various clubs in downtown Victoria.
    Contact: (250) 388-4423 or toll free 1-888-671-2112 (from North America only)


  • Through October
    Moss Street Market
    St. James Douglas School
    Fairfield Rd at Moss St
    Saturdays from 10am – 2pm.
    Local live music, crafts and organic food


  • Until October
    James Bay Community Market
    Corner of Menzies and Superior
    Every Saturday from 9am – 3pm
    Locally grown produce, plants and flowers, free range eggs, handmade quality artworks and crafts, homemade foods, preserves and bakery, entertainment, a kid’s tent and special events.


  • Through September 30
    The Government Street Market
    Government Street between Pandora and Fisgard.
    Eclectic collection of local arts and crafts, food, antiques and collectibles, imports, and entertainment.

    ©2002 by Barbara Ballard. Reproduction of this work in whole or in part and reproduction in electronic media, including images, without documented permission from the author is prohibited.


    If you want more information about this area you can email the author or check out our North America Insiders page.